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Sons of Bilah and Zilpah eat Eiver Min haChai?

Updated: Dec 11, 2022

For December 11, 2022

Vayeshev, Bereshit 37:2


תֹּלְד֣וֹת יַעֲקֹ֗ב יוֹסֵ֞ף בֶּן־שְׁבַֽע־עֶשְׂרֵ֤ה שָׁנָה֙ הָיָ֨ה רֹעֶ֤ה אֶת־אֶחָיו֙ בַּצֹּ֔אן וְה֣וּא נַ֗עַר אֶת־בְּנֵ֥י בִלְהָ֛ה וְאֶת־בְּנֵ֥י זִלְפָּ֖ה נְשֵׁ֣י אָבִ֑יו וַיָּבֵ֥א יוֹסֵ֛ף אֶת־דִּבָּתָ֥ם רָעָ֖ה אֶל־אֲבִיהֶֽם׃

"The following narrative—which continues until the end of the Torah—is the chronicle of the descendants of Jacob, how they came to live in Egypt, eventually receive the Torah, and return to settle in the Land of Israel: It began in the year 2216, when Joseph was 17 years old and was pasturing the flocks with his brothers. On the one hand, although he was already seventeen, he acted like a conceited, immature young boy, fixing up his hair and grooming his eyelashes. On the other hand, he was very sensitive; he noted how Leah's sons shunned Bilhah's and Zilpah's sons because their mothers had been handmaids; for this reason, he spent time with the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah to cheer them up and affirm their full status as his father's wives. Because of the deepening enmity between him and the sons of Leah, Joseph brought their father evil reports about any unseemly conduct he found in them. In particular, he incriminated them with transgressing the Torah's prohibition against eating flesh torn from a living animal, unfairly denigrating the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, and conducting their business interactions with women17 without proper, modest restraint."

Eiver Min haChai - Flesh From a Living Animal

Joseph disagreed with Leah's sons concerning their family's legal status vis-a-vis the commandments. Leah's sons argued that because G-d had promised to make their family into the Jewish people, they could already conduct themselves as full-fledged Jews. Joseph argued that since the Torah had not yet been formally given, they still held the legal status of non-Jews, who are only obligated to fulfill the seven Noahide laws. They could voluntarily undertake to observe the commandments as Jews, but only as a stringency, and never as a leniency.

One instance in which the Torah's law for non-Jews is more stringent than its law for Jews is with regard to flesh cut off a living animal. A Jew is required to slaughter an animal in accordance with specific ritual guidelines (shechitah) before eating it, but once the animal has been slaughtered in this way, it is considered dead, and meat can be cut off it even if the carcass is still moving (although it must not be actually eaten until the carcass has stopped moving). A non-Jew, on the other hand, is not required to ritually slaughter the animal, but because of this, he is not allowed to consider the animal dead until it has stopped moving completely; before this, he many not cut off any meat from its carcass.

Noahides Should be Aware of This Rules

Noahides - in the footsteps of Noah - are granted permission to kill any creature to eat its flesh, as the Torah states (Genesis 9:2-3):

"The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth and every bird of the sky, upon everything that moves on earth and upon all fish of the sea; in your hand they are given. Every moving thing that lives shall be yours for food; like the green herbage I have given you everything."

Noahides are granted permission to kill any type of animal in any way the desired, for the purpose of food. Still, it is fitting for a person to have compassion toward the animals and te kill them in the most painless manner possible. For mankind was not granted unrestricted permission to cause suffering to a living creature. Moreover, it is fitting for a person to distance himself from cruelty to the fullest extent possible. However it is forbidden to consume flesh that was removed from certain animals while they were still living, as the Torah states (Genesis 9:4):

" But flesh with its soul, its blood, you shall not eat."

This refers to flesh separetd from these live animals, while their soul is still in their blood.

The prohibition against eating flesh taken from a living animal applies only to domesticated mammals, wild mammals and birds. The kosher species status is of no consequence to this general prohibition.

Brought By Angelique Sijbolts


Angelique Sijbolts is one of the main writers for the Noahide Academy. She has been an observant Noahide for many years. She studies Torah with Rabbi Perets every week. Angelique invests much of her time in editing video-lectures for the Rabbis of the Academy and contributes in administrating the Academy's website in English and Dutch. She lives in the north of the Netherlands. Married and mother of two sons. She works as a teacher in a school with students with special needs. And is a Hebrew Teacher for the levels beginners and intermediate. She likes to walk, to read and play the piano.



The Divine Code by Rabbi Moshe Weiner 4e Edition p 239-240


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